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Home » Legendary Musician David Crosby, Co-Founder of Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, Passes Away at 81

Legendary Musician David Crosby, Co-Founder of Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash, Passes Away at 81

20 January 2023, Friday
Guitarist, songwriter, and singer David Crosby, who was a founding member of the two renowned 1960s rock groups, the Byrds and Crosby, Stills Nash (later Crosby, Stills, Nash, Young), has passed away, according to his representative. He was 81 years old. The cause of death is yet to be disclosed.

The shock of Crosby's passing was keenly felt by those who followed his active Twitter account, where he'd posted as recently as Wednesday. His final tweet before he died was a humorous comment about heaven: "I heard the place is overrated… cloudy."

With great sadness, I learned of the passing of my friend David Crosby. Though our relationship had its ups and downs over time, our focus was always on the music we created together, the sound we discovered with each other, and the deep friendship we cultivated over many years.

David Crosby paid tribute to his late friend, singer-songwriter [David] Olney, on Sunday.
The Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young singer-songwriter shared on Twitter a photo of Olney and a heartfelt message.

"He was a great singer and an even better human being," wrote Crosby. "I loved spending time with him. He was a gentle and funny man with a great heart. I will miss him terribly.”

Graham Nash, another member of the band, also shared his sentiments.

"David was bold and daring in life and in music," said Nash. "His absence leaves a major void in terms of his personality and his talent. He expressed his feelings, emotions, and enthusiasm through his music, creating a legacy that can never be replaced. My heart is with his wife, Jan, his son, Django, and everyone he touched over his lifetime."

Crosby made headlines eight months ago when he declared that he was done performing live, citing old age as the reason. He noted that he was, however, recording new music as quickly as he could, noting that "I'm 80 years old so I'm gonna die fairly soon. That's how that works. And so I'm trying really hard to crank out as much music as I possibly can, as long as it's really good." By December, Crosby had changed his mind about retiring from live performances, saying that he was "starting yet another band and going back out to play live."

Upon reading a quote from composer Gustav Mahler in the morning newspaper, Stephen Stills noted that something must have been amiss. This was concerning as, in recent years, it had seemed that Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CSNY) had split up irrevocably. Although a reunion was sadly not in the cards, Stills conveyed in a statement on Thursday night that the relationship had ended peacefully. "Death has, on placid cat's paws, entered the room," said Stills.

Stephen Stills has spoken out about the passing of David Crosby, his longtime collaborator, reflecting on their working relationship.

"David and I often clashed, but those clashes were usually minor and did not leave any hard feelings," said Stills. "I was relieved to be at peace with him in the end. He was a real musical giant, and his harmonic sophistication was unparalleled. Together our voices formed an incomparable union that soared like Icarus towards the sun. His passing is heartbreaking and I'll miss him more than words can express."

David Crosby recently returned to the public eye with the release of the documentary “David Crosby: Remember My Name” which was narrated and produced by Cameron Crowe. The singer discussed his own mortality in the movie and Crowe discussed this in an interview with Variety. Crowe explained that Crosby was thinking about “telling the truth in my last huge interview that I’ll probably ever do”. Furthermore, he noted that in the first interview they did, Crosby came out with a saying that “time is the final currency. What do you do with the time you have left?” Despite this, Crowe believes that Crosby has more energy than the rest of them and that he might just be “batting his eyes like he’s on his deathbed” as a way of conning them all.

With Roger McGuinn, Gene Clark, Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke, David Crosby defined the blueprint for '60s Los Angeles folk-rock as part of the Byrds during his volatile period from 1964-67.

When he connected with Stephen Stills from Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash from the Hollies in the midst of the glamour of the Laurel Canyon scene in the late 1960s, Crosby formed the popular CS&N. Their first album in 1968, which earned several platinum records, launched the supergroup era of rock.

The inclusion of Neil Young, a former Buffalo Springfield member and already volatile individual, increased the commercial potential of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Unfortunately, their inflated egos combined with the rock scene of the day eventually led to the collapse of the group in the 1970s.  Despite this, they periodically reunited to tour and record music, with Crosby and Nash's partnership being the most consistent. The duo remained active recording and touring through the early 2000s.

David Crosby, while never penning the majority of the material for either the Byrds or CSN&Y, nonetheless was an integral part of the vocal harmony line-up which was responsible for the chart-topping hits of both of those acts.

Part icon, part embodiment of the 1960s scene of sex, drugs and rock, Crosby had a long battle with addiction. In 1982 he was arrested in Texas on drug and weapons charges, and was incarcerated for five months in 1986. He went through significant health issues related to his long-term use of cocaine and alcohol, and had a liver transplant in 1994.
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